Review: Chicago brings razzle dazzle - and all that jazz - to Sunderland's Empire Theatre

Chicago the Musical, an all-time classic, seduced crowds in Sunderland with its 1920s glamour.

Friday, 3rd June 2022, 5:10 pm

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Set amidst the jazz-drenched decade of the Roaring Twenties, Chicago is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her lover after he threatens to walk out on her.

In a bid to avoid being convicted – and hung – she partners up with Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her awful crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloids.

In turn, the devilish housewife dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly.

Chicago is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday, June 4. Picture: ©Tristram Kenton.

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Velma, played by Djalenga Scott opened the show with a bang as All that Jazz bellowed across the stage and a live orchestra visual on stage created a real jazz night club experience.

Djalenga’s performance was elegant and sexy, her character was sassy and at times comedic, not forgetting her incredible voice which echoed around the theatre.

As she sauntered across the stage, she was captivating in her portrayal of Kelly – who was in the Cook County jail for murdering her husband and sister after catching the pair having an affair – and oozed the right amount of charm while still feeling quite sinister.

The slick and sensual choreography was definitely a highlight of the show and I couldn’t take my eyes off the stage as the dancers shimmied around in skimpy costumes.

A scene from the international tour of Chicago the Musical. Picture: ©Tristram Kenton.

Faye Brookes, best known as Kate Connor on Coronation Street, executed Roxie’s character perfectly as she portrayed the seductive and malicious nightclub dancer flawlessly.

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She captured Roxie so well that she started to become an unlikeable character, who was after all the fame and money she could get her hands on.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Gemma Collins, who rose to fame on ITV show The Only Way Is Essex, was due to play Mama Morton – but a week before opening night, Gemma’s had to pull out of the show due to an injury.

And all that jazz! Picture: ©Tristram Kenton.

But understudy, Delycia Belgrave stepped up to the mark and she did not disappoint, her bold and bolshie character was delivered effortlessly.

Lee Mead as Billy Flynn is another to mention with his sleazy lawyer mannerisms – but surprising impeccable voice.

Among all the glitz, the glamour and strong personalities was Jamie Braughan as Amos Hart, AKA Mr Cellophane, who won the hearts of the crowd with his sad and innocent performance.

The audience definitely had a soft spot for Amos, who received one of the biggest cheers of the evening.

Having the orchestra included in the show was a fantastic choice by directors and added to the mood and atmosphere – it was as though we truly were at the cabaret!

The dazzling lights, glittery costumes and simple scenery made for an enjoyable performance about a story of sex, jazz and murder.

Chicago runs at Sunderland Empire until Saturday, June 4, and tickets are available from the Ticket Centre on 0844 8717615 or online at www.ATGtickets.com/sunderland